An Old Friend
Sanctuary I have always found among trees and in many ways they have saved me.
In May, I visited an old friend in Auckland, New Zealand, who helped me during the darkest time of my life.
The Auckland Domain is the oldest park in Auckland and it sits on top of an ancient volcano crater. Auckland Hospital is close to the park and in my teens I stayed there for about a month at the mental health unit for young people. I was depressed, suicidal and trapped inside a mind of screaming voices.
Locked behind bars, we were hardly ever allowed to go outside, despite the park being so close by. Thankfully, my mum sometimes received permission to take me to the park, where I loved being around the old trees, especially the one in this photo, which I believe to be a Moreton Bay Fig tree.
Seeing the tree again felt surreal. I hadn’t been back there for over 10 years. Sitting on the trees giant roots, I felt connected to my own roots. The girl who once sat on those roots was struggling to survive, but now she has grown up and blossomed into a strong young woman. I am proud of who I am and of how far I have come.
Like the old tree, my roots go deep and my branches grow high. If I had not taken that journey down into my own inner hell, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t wish that kind of suffering on anyone, but I understand that it was a part of my journey, and sometimes the worst storms come with the greatest gifts.
Many suffer from mental illness and many suffer in silence. A broken mind isn’t as easy to fix as a broken leg, and people can be very judging and misunderstanding when it comes to mental illness. My own journey of healing was a long one, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. I had a lot of help from family, friends and angels in disguise, and I also had to discover my own source of medicine.
If you are depressed or suicidal, or if you know someone who is suffering, please know that there is always help. There is a way. Don’t give up. Find that spark of light wherever you can and warm your heart like you might blow life into a fire – fill it with what you love. The simplest things, like a walk in the park or spending time with an animal, make the biggest difference.
In my own experience, doctors and psychologists, despite trying to help, only made me feel more broken inside. Instead of being told that there is hope, and that healing is possible, I was instead made to believe that the only chance I had of getting better was living the rest of my life on pills.
Even if you feel dead inside and can’t remember the last time you smiled – there is always something. Go outdoors and breathe in the beauty of nature. Mother Earth is always there to hold you close to her heart and sing you home. Don’t let this crazy world make you mad. Remember who you truly are and know that no matter what happens, there is always hope, there is always love, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you feel as though you are broken, and like nothing will fix you - remember, deep inside you are whole, and you are connected to the same source of life as all of nature, and like a tree you will find a way to grow, to heal and to transform the old into something new. Remember who you truly are and know that no matter what happens, there is always hope, there is always love, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Healing will take time. It is a journey that will take everything you have, but believe me, you are stronger than you realise and you will get through. Don’t be afraid of the dark. In order to become whole, we must embrace both the light and dark.
Even if you feel as though you are broken and like nothing will fix you - remember, deep inside you are whole, and you are connected to the same source of life as all of nature, and like a tree you will find a way to grow, to heal and to transform the old into something new.
Like a tree, the journey will give you roots that go deep into the earth, and branches that stretch high into the sky.
Thank you, my old friend, for giving me the strength to go on.